SALT LAKE CITY — Teachers, staff and students in the Salt Lake City School District are gearing up for a return to the classroom.
That’s because late Tuesday night, members of the Salt Lake City school board voted 4-3 to restart in-person schooling for elementary students beginning in late January.
Students will be phased in over a three-week period. Preschoolers and first graders will return the week of Jan. 25. Second and third graders will start the week of Feb. 1, and fourth, fifth and sixth graders will return the week of Feb. 8.
“What I hope is that the community buys into the fact that it’s a community problem,” said Salt Lake City School Superintendent Larry Madden. “And if people can manage it well through Thanksgiving, manage it well through winter break, then I’m hoping we find ourselves in a better place.”
The buildings haven't held classes for months, but they’re clean, sanitized and ready to go.
The question now is how many students will actually be returning for in-person learning.
“Then we have to deal with the staffing piece to that and try to make that work with teachers,” Madden said. “Who’s going to teach remote and who’s going to teach in person.”
The decision to return to in-class learning is largely based on data which suggests grade school aged children are less likely to contract and to spread the coronavirus.
This is a tentative restart date which is more than two months away and is not set in stone. If the number of Utahns infected with COVID-19 continues to climb, the restart may not happen.
“If things are terrible at that time then we could very well revisit this,” Madden said.
Madden said he realizes how important it is for younger children to be in the classroom and he’s hopeful the district can stick to this in-classroom restart timetable.